Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter

By • July 23, 2013 • 60 Comments



Author Notes: Whenever you come home a bundle of squash, this is the best, purest way you can distill it. (And then in about a month, when we're overrun, it will still be a happy way to dispense with lots of them at once.) It turns out zucchini wants to be butter. Grated fine, it cooks down quickly, pooling into a soft, freckly green pile. Spread it on toast in place of actual butter. Cake a thick layer in a sandwich with salted tomatoes or soft cheese. Sauce a grilled pizza. Consider it a side dish. Or just eat a big heap of it, right out of the pan, like we did. Recipe from Jennie Cook via The Kitchn.Genius Recipes

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
  • 2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.
  2. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the shallots or garlic briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor -- you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.
  3. Enjoy on toast, or as a side dish all summer long!
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Comments (60) Questions (2)

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8 days ago ghainskom

Had this on top of steak, with potatoes sprinkled with dukkah on the side. Simple but great!

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15 days ago Caria

Just made it last night. Added a touch of cayenne to it to give it a bit of a kick. Loving it. Need another large zucchini to make another batch.

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19 days ago Dasha18

I also have several baseball bat zucchinis from my garden. (How do I miss these giants?) However my first recipe is to slice them, add a little oil and seasoning and roast at 450. Second recipe is to top the slices with ketchup or tomato sauce, herbs and cheese and roast. (zucchini pizza). It works well with nondairy cheese also. If there any left over I hope to make this butter and freeze it for our long winters. Thank you.

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22 days ago caarin

I think I have made this recipe 15 times since I first saw it last summer. I'm making it again tonight to serve alongside a grilled ciabatta, lobster, and an arugula blackberry salad on the beach. It's an absolute favorite of my family - and every guest I've ever served it too.

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21 days ago tamater sammich

Superb menu - and on the beach, wowzer!

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29 days ago Atlanticgull

Just served this on crostini with slow roasted cherry tomatoes. Everyone loved it! New August go-to. Thanks.

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about 1 month ago Jacqueline

I received a titan six pound zucchini from a friend which gave me the perfect opportunity to finally try this recipe. So glad I did, it is delicious! I was able to put up numerous pints to stash in the pantry for cooler weather when abundant zucchini is just a memory. I made myself an extraordinary grilled cheese and tomato sandwich using this slightly garlicky spread. Do not hesitate to raid your friend's gardens for their extra zucchini!

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about 1 month ago tamater sammich

Raid their garden, heck, we have to lock our car doors and tie the dogs to the porch gates to keep them from leaving it and running away in the night!

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about 1 month ago Jacqueline

So funny! I planted a smaller garden this year and I am kicking myself for leaving out the zucchini....and the neighbor who faithfully drops zucchini "anonymously" in our garage didn't plant a garden this year!

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about 1 month ago tamater sammich

I planted the bush (vs vine) variety this year, (only 1 yellow, 1 green) and am finding its much easier to deal with.

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about 1 month ago Rebecca Brown

Not sure if I should let this "slowly caramelize" or stop cooking while zucchini still has "its bright green color"?

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about 1 month ago lastnightsdinner

This stuff is so, so brilliant. I made a batch yesterday to spread inside cheesy quesadillas for a little house party. Four adults, three almost-3-year olds and an 8-month old all LOVED it.

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about 1 month ago Pia S

This is delicious! I added a pinch of sumac.

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about 1 month ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

My husband has made this once, and I've made it twice. It's delicious, and makes a great pizza "sauce" as well as general bread or crostini spread. I added some lemon zest, blanched chopped basil, and Aleppo pepper to the last batch -- it got rave reviews at lady's wine night.

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about 1 month ago tamater sammich

I love your additions, and made a note on my recipe file card. Thanks!

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2 months ago Salvegging

Made this this evening and here are my notes: I used 1 yellow squash, 1 Tb butter and garlic. The author does not indicate the salt/pepper quota, but I seasoned while it was in the pan and a bit when it cooled. We spread the entire half cup onto a few slices warm sourdough. Delicious addition to a meal of roasted pinched chicken sausage and dressed arugula. Great concept. Next time I'll be a little more adventurous with a few other seasonings and herbs perhaps.

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2 months ago Brian Mclaughlin

Made with garlic, olive oil, hint of dried chilli............beautiful, this will be made regularly all summer long!

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3 months ago tamater sammich

Wether you grow your own herbs (they grow like weeds) or buy bouquets at grocers, here's a way to use up the leftovers:
No recipe, just keep a jar or baggie in the freezer to which, on an ongoing basis, you add your fine-minced leftovers, along with a add small amount of olive oil. When you have lots, say a coup or two, enough to make a good concentration of herbs to butter, you're ready to make your brown butter, or softened butter.
Just mix, (pressed garlic can be added. Basil will blacken when frozen, but is still still ok) chill if necessary, and shape into a log which can be easily sliced when frozen.
What you'll have is something versatile to use all winter, anywhere you want an extra flavour dimension; to add at the end of soup making, or for pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, a white sauce or gravy, or shave some off for bruschetta.

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3 months ago Emme

I enjoyed this last year and plan to make it again this summer. Any other vegetables you'd suggest for savory butters?

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3 months ago tamater sammich

Emme, I wrote this herb butter thing above, for you, but neglected to add to 'Reply To Comment'. What I love about it, is how I can whip up something for pennies on short notice, that tastes like it's been fussed over. It helped me as a young cook, to learn to cook without using processed 'helpers'.
I forgot another thing I do with it, which is rubbing on potatoes roasted Greek style. We're vegetarians here, but I don't see why it couldn't be schmeared on roasts or chicken before roasting.

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3 months ago tamater sammich

Would you please let us know how it turns out? I'm waiting for my zuc in the garden right now, and your idea made me think that maybe zucchini could be used for the liquid in gazpacho?

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3 months ago Karen C

For a raw dip recipe, I'm going to try to pulse this, without cooking, in the food processor, combined with the ingredients for Raw Basil Guacamole. I'm slobbering like one of Pavlov's dogs just thinking about it.

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6 months ago dbrowning

Put big scoop of leftover zucchini butter on plate. Heat up. Top with runny poached egg for an awesome breakfast

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6 months ago marija

this is very nice and so easy to make. I recently made it as one of the re diner hors d'oeurves and although they were mostly "fussy" eaters it didn't disappoint. on its own on a piece of sourdough or with mozzarella and sundered tomatoes, num!

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12 months ago Turbeville Green

What's the best way and how long can I store it?

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6 months ago tamater sammich

I made lots of this recipe last summer, when we had zucchini coming out our ears. We had the last of it from the freezer several weeks ago. What I did was let it cool off, then tamp it down in glass Rubbermaid containers, and just before freezing, pouring a thin layer of olive oil on top, as a barrier to air, to eliminate freezer burn.

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about 1 year ago betty888

This is so simple and truly delicious. I put the butter on top of a simple baked chicken breast (cooked with a little garlic, lemon, olive oil), and it was fantastic. I'll be eating the rest this morning on wheat toast. I agree with other posters that this would be great on pasta, or even as an omelet filling. This could easily become addictive.

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12 months ago Turbeville Green

As a spread on baked chicken is my plan, I'm excited to try this.

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about 1 year ago SusanR

This is fantastic! I have been making it all summer for my husband who loves zucchini. Tonight I am serving it as an appetizer to friends and family who are joining us for dinner. It is certainly one of the most genius recipes I have ever found. I do not add nearly as much oil as called for. My husband loves it and eats it pretty much by the bowl full!

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12 months ago Turbeville Green

I'm dying to try this and planned to cut back on oil. About how much oil did you use?

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about 1 year ago Grace Mack

Made it for a party. Nobody liked it. Very disappointed.

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about 1 year ago sweet fang

I made a second batch with not only the two salts; The espresso salt and the Alderwood salt but I added Tarragon to it and it is sweet and just a dash smoky.
Pretty fantastic.

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about 1 year ago EJMdesign

Made this tonight with a fabulous fresh zucchini from the local farmer's market, and it was delicious. Can't wait to make some great crusty toast tomorrow morning to have with it!

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about 1 year ago sweet fang

I love this ! I added two different salts to it to punch it out a little. An espresso salt and an Alderwood smoked salt. It was crazy good.
Salts came from the filling station in NYC @ Chelsea Market. :)

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about 1 year ago seasonista

In the cookbook "In Season", Sarah Raven does a version of zucchini jam that is similar to this, with ginger & lemon, plus gelatin. She says it's an "edwardian recipe".

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about 1 year ago Judy E

Absolutely wonderful taste! This is a definite family favorite now. Easy and very flavorful.

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about 1 year ago Janeths

Very tasty!

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about 1 year ago Antonia AT

Totally delicious: This is a riff on a Julia Child recipe that's been a summer favorite forever.

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about 1 year ago Diana Pappas

Just picked a huge zucchini that was hiding in my garden and immediately made this. What a fabulous use of zucchini that has grown beyond the ideal size!

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about 1 year ago Jacqueline

Yes, please. And thank you!

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about 1 year ago learnoff

This recipe is unbelievably easy and amazingly delicious! Someone asked if it would freeze well - in my house it would never make it to the freezer! Will be making many batches of this!

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about 1 year ago Paula d.

I made this yesterday. Awesome! Added some thyme and, instead of water, used dry white wine to deglaze the pan. Plan on making MUCH more. 1 recipe just won't last very long!!!

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about 1 year ago JulieBee

I made this tonight and served it with a grilled garlic bread....in a word, delectable. Everyone raved and wondered what was in it, how was it made...zucchini? No kidding.
Be sure to season with kosher salt and a little fresh ground pepper. A+

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about 1 year ago JulieBee

Oh and forgot to say, I had no shallots, so just used organic yellow onions, chopped teeny tiny and it worked beautifully.

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about 1 year ago audrey

Going to make this RIGHT NOW.

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about 1 year ago audrey

Fantastic! I tossed it with some pasta, delicious. I can see adding different flavors to go different ways: capers and basil and white wine, or tarragon, or sun-dried tomatoes. I put some in the freezer to see how it holds up.

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about 1 year ago bb

what a super little recipe ! !

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about 1 year ago HelenD

I read this recipe and had to taste it. Went shopping for squash and shallots, and cannot believe how easy and how good this is! Delicious on a toasted everything bagel! Thanks for the recipe and for the most helpful comments!

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about 1 year ago Ceege

I live in a condo so am unable to plant a garden (much to my dismay). However, we do have several local farms that sell all summer long. I am heading out tomorrow and see if zuc's are ripe at this time of year. I can't wait to try this recipe. Pizzz, spaghetti, sandwiches, etc. Want to try them all.

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about 1 year ago tamater sammich

I've been doing this for years, and in much larger quantities. Soon as it's done, I spread it out on cookie sheets. An option for that step is, packing it on the sheets, and then running the rolling pin over the sheets. Another option is for cooling; place pans in front of a fan till cool, before putting them in the freezer. When solid enough, I cut into slabs the size of the freezer bags. The slabs are then very easy to break up and toss onto pizzas.

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about 1 year ago Jsne

I was wondering if one is able to can this up to store it throughout the year. This sounds absolutely fabulous! And I, too, have planted way too many squash plants yet again.

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about 1 year ago nomnivorous

I have not made this recipe but I don't think it would be safe for water bath canning. It has far too much oil to be safe. I'm not sure about pressure canning though.

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about 1 year ago Kimberly Calaba

I would say no. At least I don't feel the flavor would stay with it after canning.

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about 1 year ago Gigswatch

This is beautifully described and perfectly proportioned. Thank you!

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about 1 year ago csdales

I would love to see nutritional information with all the recipes.

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about 1 year ago Sallie J. Eimstad

It freezes just fine and, for another long-keeper, make zucchini milk. Liquify your zucchini excesses and freeze in ice cube trays. Bag the cubes and replace your choice of quantity of liquids in nearly ANY recipe with the zucchini milk. It works in cakes, pies, soups, pancakes and waffles, meatloaf, meatballs, and so forth. I've substituted for up to half the called-for liquid in many recipes and for all of it in others, depending. Experiment. And, you sneak a bit more nutrition into children's diets when they may not want to eat "squishy" squash.

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about 1 year ago Martha

For year we have been doing something very much like this and use it as a topping for pizza! Yum -- the best pizza ever with some fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce and cheese. Then grill the pizza for an especially wonderful crust.

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about 1 year ago misschef

Does it freeze well?
She asks hopefully, having planted way too many squash plants this year.

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about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I haven't tried, but I definitely think it would!

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about 1 year ago nomnivorous

I'm sure it never stays around long enough to test, but do you have a refrigerator life for this recipe? (Like, up to 3 days? 1 week? Longer?)